COLUMBUS – Ohio 82nd District State Rep. Craig Riedel of Defiance and Dick Stein, R-Norwalk, recently introduced a bill concerning property rights of township residents by allowing a public referendum for wind and solar projects.
“As a state legislator in northwest Ohio, I represent the counties with the most wind development in the state,” stated Riedel. “The beauty of this bill is that it gives local control to township residents for them to decide whether wind or solar development is welcome to move forward or stopped where it is not welcome.”
Under this legislation, developers are required to share their application with township trustees 30 days before applying for a certificate (or an amendment to an existing certificate) from the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB). After reviewing the application, trustees must vote on one of the following:
• a resolution allowing public input (grants qualified electors within the affected township the right to petition a referendum).
• a resolution requiring public input (stipulates that if approved, a certificate is required to be submitted to the voters of the township for approval via referendum).
• no resolution (indicates public support for the project).
A certificate or amendment issued by the OSPB for a project that falls within the area of a township becomes effective on the 90th day after it is issued unless a referendum petition is filed with the local board of elections.
If the petition receives the required number of signatures of at least 8% of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, the project must be approved by voters at the next primary or general election before moving forward.
The bill sponsors noted that the bill is permissive for townships and provides no hindrance to townships that support wind and solar projects in their region.
“With the introduction of this legislation we look forward to expanding rights of local communities to be more active participants in wind development which affects their daily lives,” stated Stein.
The bill awaits referral to a House committee, and is companion legislation to Ohio Senate Bill 52 sponsored by State Sens. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, and Rob McColley, R-Napoleon.
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